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that readeth, and they that hear the word of this prophecy, and keep the things which are written therein: for the
time is near. 4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia. Grace be unto you, and peace from him who is, and who was,
and who cometh, and from the seven Spirits that are 5 before his throne, And from Jesus Christ, the faithful
of consequence, it contains many particulars, pot revealed in any other part of Scripture. They have, therefore, little gratitude to God for such a Reven lation, reserved for the exaltation of Christ, who boldly reject whatever they find bere, which was not revealed, or not so clearly in other parts of Scriptare. He that readeth, and they that hear.-St. John probably sent this book by A single person into Asia, who read it in the churches, while many heard. But this likewise, in a secondary sense, refers to all that shall duly read or hear it in all ages. The words of this prophecy It is a revelation with regard to Christ, who gives it; a prophecy with regard to John, who delivers it to the churches. And keep the things which are written therein-lo such a manner as the nature of them requires: namely, with repentance, faith, patience, prayer, obedience, watchfnlness, constancy. It behoves every Christian, at all opportunities, to read what is written in the oracles of God; and to read this precious book, in particular, frequently, reverently, and attentively. For the time of its beginning to be accomplished, is near-Even when St. Joha wrote. How much nearer to us is even the full accomplishment of this weighty prophecy?
V. 4. John-The dedication of this book is contained in the 4th, 5th, and 6tb verses; but the whole Revelation is a kind of letter. To the seven churches xphich are in Asia-That part of the lesser Asia which was then a Roman province. There bad been several other churches planted here: but it seems tbese were now the most eminent. And it was among these that St. Joha had laboured most, during his abode in Asia. In these cities there were many Jews. Such of them as believed in each, were joined with the Gentile believers in one church. Grace be unto you, and peace--The favour of God, with all temporal and eternal blessings, from him who ås, and who was, and who cometh—Or, who is to come. A wonderful translation of the great name, JEHOVAH: He was of old, he is now, he cometh; that is, will be for ever. And from the seven Spirits which are before his thrones-Christ is he who hath the seven Spirits of God. The seven lamps whick burn before the throne, are the seven Spirits of God. The Lamb hath seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God. Seven was a sacred number in the Jewish church. But it did not always imply a precise pumber. It sometimes is to be taken figuratively, to denote completeness, or perfection. By these seven Spirits, not seven created angels, but the Holy Ghost is to be understood: the angels are never termed Spirits in this book : and when all the angels stand up, while the four living creatures, and the four and twenty elders, worship him that gitteth upon the throne, and the Lamb, the seven Spirits neither stand up nor worship. To these seven Spirits of God, the seven churches, to whom the Spirit speaks so many things, are subordinate: as are also their angels, yea, and the seven engels which stand before God. He is called The seven Spirite, not with regard to his essence, which is one, but with regard to his manifold operations.
y. 5. And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first-begotten from the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth-Three glorious appellations are here given him, and in their proper order. He was the faithful witness of the whole will of God before his death and in death, and remains such in glory. He rose from the dead, as the first-fruits of em that slept; and now al power both in heaven and earth. He is here styled « Prince. Bụt by-and-bye
witness, the first-begotten from the dead, and the prince 6 of the kings of the earth: To him that loved us, and
hath washed us from our sins with his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto his God and Father,
to him be the glory and the might for ever. 7 Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall
see hini, and they who have pierced him : and all the 8 tribes of the earth shall wail because of him. Yea,
Amen. l'am the Alpha and the Oniega, saith the Lord God, who is, and who was, and who cometh, the Almighty.
he bears his title of King; yea, King of kings, and Lord of lords. This phrase, the kings of the carth, signifies their power and inultiiude, and also the nature of their kingdom. It became the Divine Majesty to call them Kings, with a limitation; especially in this manifesto from his heavenly kingdom. For no creature, much less a sinful man, can bear the title of King, iu an absolute sense, before the eyes of God.
V.6. To him that loved us, and-Out of that free, abundant love, hath washed us from—The guilt and power of our sins with his own blood : and hath made us kinys— Partakers of his present, and heirs of his eternal kingdom, and priests unto his God and Father-To wbom we continually offer ourselves, a holy living sacrifice: to him be the glory-For his love and redemption; and the might-Whereby he governs all things.
V.7. Behold lo this and the next'verse is the proposition and the summary of the whole book. He cometh Jesus Christ. Throughout this book, whenever it is said, He cometh, it means his glorious coming. The preparation for this began at the destruction of Jerusalem, and more particularly at the time of writing this book, and goes on, without any interruption, till that grand event is accomplished. Therefore it is never said in this book, He will come, but, He cometh. And yet it is not said, He cometh again. Fur' when he came before, it was not like himself, but in the form of a servant. But his appearing iu glory is, properly, bis coming; namely, in a manner worthy of the Son of God. And every eye-Of the Jews in particular, shall see him—But with what different emotions, according as they had received or rejected bim! And they who have pierced him-They above all, who pierced bis hands, or fect, or "side. Thomas saw the prints of these wounds, even after his resurrection. And the same, undoubtedly, will be seen by all, whew' he cometh in the clouds of heaven. And all the tribes of the earth-The word tribes, in the Revelation, always means the Israelites; but where another word, such as nations, or people, is joined with it, it implies likewise (as here) all the rest of mankind. Shall wail hecause of him-For terror and pain, if they did not wail before by true repentance. Yea, Amen- This refers to, every eye shall see him. He that cometh saith, Yea; he that testifies it, Amen. The word translated Yea, is Grcek; Amen, is Hebrew: for what is here spoken respects both Jew and Gentile. V. §. I am the Alpha and the Omega, saith the Lord God-Alpha is the first
, Omega the last letter in the Greek alphabet. Let his enemies boast and rage ever so much in the intermediate time, yet the Lord God is both the Alpha, or beginning, and the Omega, or end of all things: God is the begļuving, as lie is the Author and Creator of all things, and as be proposes, declares, and promises so great things. He is the end, as he brings all the things which are here revealed to a complete and glorious conclusion. Again, the beginning and end of a thing, is in Scripture styled the whole thing. Therefore God the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning
and the end, that is, One, who is all things, and always the same.
1 John, your brother and companion in the affliction, and in the kingdom, and patience of Jesus, was in the
island Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony 10 of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and 11 heard behind me a great voice as of a trumpet, Saying,
what thou seest, write in a book and send to the seven V. 9. I John-The instruction and preparation of the apostle for the work are described from the gth to the 20th verse: your brother--In the common faith: and companion in the affliction-For the same book peculiarly belongs to those who are under the cross. It was given to a banished man, and meu in affiction understand and relish it most. Accordingly it was little esteemed by the Asiatic church, after the time of Constantine; but highly valued by all the African churches: as it has been since by all the perseeuted children of Gud. In the affliction, and kingdom, and patience of Jesus Christ The kingdom stands in the midst. It is chiefly under various afflictions, that faith obtains its part in the kingdom. And whosoever is partaker of this kingdom, is not afraid to suffer for Jesus, 2 Tim. ii. 12. I was in the island Patmos In the reign of Domitian and of Nerva. . And there he saw and wrote all that follows. It was a place peculiarly proper for these visions. He had over against him at a small distance Asia and the seven churches; going on eastward, Jerusalem and the land of Canaan; and beyond this, Antioch, yea, the whole continent of Asia. To the west he had Rome, Italy, and all Europe, swimming as it were in the sea : to the south, Alexandria and the Nile with its outlets, Egypt and all Afriea: and to the north, what was afterwards called Constantinople, on the straits between Europe and Asia. So he bad all the three parts of the world which were then known, with Christendom as it were before his eyes: a large theatre, for all the various scenes which were to pass before him. As if this island had been made principally for this end, to serve as an observatory for the apostle. For preaching the word of God he was banished thither, and for the testimony of Jesus ; for testifying that he is the Christ.
V. 10. I was in the Spirit-That is, in a trance, a prophetic vision : su overwhelmed with the power and filled with the light of the Holy Spirit, as to be insensible of outward things, and wholly taken up with spiritual and divine. What follows is one single, connected vision, which St. John saw in one day: and therefore he that would understand it, should carry his thought straight on through the whole without interruption. The other prophetic books are collections of distinct prophecies, given upon various occasions. But here is one single treatise, whereof all the parts exactly depend on each other. Chap. iv. 1, is connected with chap. i. 19. And what is delivered in the 4th chapter goes on directly to the 22d. On the Lord's day-On this our Lord rose from the dead.' On this the ancients believed he would come to judyment. It was therefore with the utmost propriety, that St. John on this day both saw and described his coming. And I heard behind me--St. John had his face to the east: our Lord likewise in this appearance, looked eastward toward Asia, whither the apostle was to write: a great voice as of a trumpet--Which was peculiarly proper to proclaim the coming of the great King, and his victory over all his enemies.
V. ú. Saying, what thou seest And hearest. He both saw and heard. This command extends to the whole book. ` All the books of the New Testament were written by the will of God: but none were so expressly commanded to be written; in a book-So all the Revelation is but one book : 'nor did the letter to the angel of each church, belong to him or his church only, but the whole book was sent to them all: to the churches-Hereafter named; and through them to all churches, in' all ages and nations. To Ephesus-Mr. Thomas Smith, who in the year 1671, travelled through all these cities, observes, that from Ephesys to Smyrna is forty-six English miles, from Smyrna' to Pergamos,
churches, to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Perga
mos, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadel. 12 phia, and to Laodicea. And I turned to see the voice
that spake with me; and being turned, I saw seven 13 golden candlesticks, And in the midst of the candle
sticks, one, like a Son of man, clothed with a garment
down to the foot, and girt about at the breast with a 14 golden girdle. His head and hair were white as white 15 wool, as snow, and his eyes as a flame of fire, And his
feet like fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace, and 16 his voice as the voice of many waters. And he had in his
right hand seven stars, and out of his mouth went a sharp
two-edged sword, and his countenance was as the sun 17 shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at
sixty-four, from Pergamos to Thyatira, forty-eight, from Thyatira to Sardis, thirty-three, from Sardis to Philadelpbia, twenty-seven, from Philadelphia to Laodicea, about forty-two miles.
V. 12, 13. And I turned to see the raice-That is, to see him, whose voice it was, and being turned I saw-It seems the vision presented itself gradually. First be heard a voice, and upon looking behind he saw the golden candlesticks, and then, in the midst of the candlesticks, which were placed in a circle, be saw one like a son of man-That is, in a human form. As a man likewise our Lord doubtless appears in heaven; though not exactly in this symbolical man. ner, wherein he presents himself as the Head of his church. He next abserved that our Lord was clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt with e golden girdle-Such the Jewish high-priests wore. But both of them are here marks of royal dignity likewise, girt about at the breast-He that is on . journey girds his loins. Girding the breast was an emblem of solemn rest. It seems that the apostle having seen all this, looked up to behold the face of our Lord: but was beat back by the appearance of bis flaming eyes, which occasioned his more particularly observing his feet. Receiving strength to raise his eyes again, he saw the stars in his right band, and the sword coming out of his mouth: but upon beholding the brightness of his glorious countenance, (which probably was much increased since the first glance the apostle had of it,) he fell at his feet as dead. During the time that St. John was discovering these several particulars, our Lord seems to have been speaking. And doubtless even his voice, at the very first, bespoke the God; though not so insupportably as bis glorious appearance.
V. 14. His head and his hair--That is, the hair of his head, not his whole head, were white as white wool. Like the Ancient of Days, represented in Daniel's vision, (ch. vii. 9.) Wool is commonly supposed to be an emblem of eternity, as snow~-Betokening his spotless purity. And his eyes as a fame of fire-Piercing through all things : à token of his omniscience.
V. 15. And his feet like fine brass-Denoting his stability and strength, as if they burned in a furnace-As if having been melted and refined, they were stil red hot, and his voice-To the comfort of his friends, and the terror of his enemies, as the voice of many waters Roaring aloud, and beariog down all before them.
V. 16. And he had in his right hand seven stars. In token of his fayour and powerful protection. And out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword Sigaifying his justice and righteous anger, continually pointed against bis enemies as a sword, sharp, to stab, two-hedged, to hew. And his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength--Without any mist or cloud.
V. 17. And I fell at his feet as deadHuman nature not being able to sus.
his feet as dead: and he laid his right hand upon me, 18 saying, Fear not, I am the First and the Last, And hé
that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive for ever19 more, and have the keys of death and of hades. Write
the things which thou hast seen, and which are, and which 20 shall be hereafter: The mystery of the seven stars which
thou sawest in my right hand, and of the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are angels of the seven churches : and the seven candlesticks are seven churches.
tain so glorious an apearance. Thus was he prepared (like Daniel of old, whom he particularly resembles) for receiving so weighty a prophecy. A great sinking of nature usually precedes a large communication of beavenly things. St.John, before our Lord suffered, was so intimate with him, as to lean on his breast, to lie in his bosoun. Yet now, near seventy years after, the aged a posile is by one glance struck to the ground. What a glory must this be? Ye sinners, be afraid. Cleanse your hands. Purify your hearts. Ye saints, be humble. Prepare. Rejoice. But rejoice unto him with reverence. An in. crease of reverence towards this awful Majesty can be no prejudice to your faith. Let all petulancy, with all vain curiosity, be far away, while you are thinking or reading of these things. And he laid his right hand upon me The same wherein he held the seven slars. What did St. John then feel in himself? Saying, Fear not-His look terrifies, his speech strengthens. He does not call John by name, (as the angels did Zechariah and others,) but speaks as his well-known Master. What follows is also spoken to strengthen and encou. rage him. I am—When in his state of humiation he speaks of his glory, he frequently spoke in the third person, (as Matt. xxvi. 64;) but he now speaks of his own glory, without any veil, in plain and direct terms. The first and the last-That is, the one, eternal God, who is from everlasting to everlasting, Isa. xli. 4.
V. 18. And he that liveth-Another peculiar title of God, and I have the keys of death and of hades—That is, the invisible world; in the intermediate state, the body abides in death, the soul in bades. Christ bath the keys of, that is, the power over both, killing or quickening of the body, and disposing of the soul as it pleaseth him. He gave St. Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven; but not the keys of death or of hades. How comes then his supposed successor at Rome by the keys of purgatory !
From the precding description mostly, are taken the titles given to Christ in the following letters, pariicularly the four first.
V. 19. Write the things which thou hast seen-This day: which accordingly are written, ch. i. 11-18, and which are The instructions relating to the present state of the seven churches. These are written, ch. i. 20, ch. iii. 22. And which shall be hereafter-To the end of the world; written chap. iv. 1, &c.
V. 20. Write first the mystery--The mysterious meaning of the seven stars St. John knew better than we do, in how many respects these stars were & proper emblem of those angels : how nearly they resembled each other, and how far they differed in magnitude, brightness, and other circumstances. The seven stars are angels of the seven churches Mentioned in the 11th verse. In each church there was one pastor or ruling minister, to whom all the rest were subordinate. This pastor, bishop, or overseer, had the peculiar care over that fock:
: on him the prosperity of that congregation in a great measure depended : and he was to answer for all those souls at the judgment-seat of Christ. And the seven candlesticks are seven charches---How significant an emblem is this! For a candlestick, though
of gold, has no light of itself: neither has any church, or chird of man. But ihey receive from Christ the light of truth, Holiness, comfort, that it may shine to all around them.